Chatting with a scarlet lady.

Prostitution is a profession associated with sinful, desperate women and lascivious, exploitative patrons. When people discover someone is a prostitute, they are filled with shock and disgust, repulsion even. Sex work is an unspeakable career, yet it is and always has been deeply ingrained in society.

Through my travels I met a Hailey, a sex worker who contradicts many of the trade's stereotypes. Intelligent, educated and from a middle-class background, she chose to do sex worker because she has a relaxed attitude to sex and felt that in terms of money, the end justified the means.

Last week I caught up with Haley to discover what could possess an everyday girl with a sunny disposition to initiate herself in the underworld of sex work. Haley's no-nonsense attitude about it all made me wonder if we're making a big fuss over nothing.

For Hailey, prostitution is nothing more than a way to make a quick buck from a few fucks. We live in age where money is the most important things in many people lives, so why shouldn't individuals unashamed of their sexuality trade sex for money, and maybe get an orgasm or two along the way (Hailey claims she has a success rate of one in five with clients)?

First off, many people believe the term 'prostitute' is politically incorrect because it has become laden with so much stigma and negative connotations. How do you feel about the term and what word do you use to refer to your profession? 
Hailey: Well I read somewhere that the word actually means to do something wrong, so I don't particularly like it. I'm not an easily offended person [but] I do prefer the word sex work, which I use to describe it. It's the literal term for the job rather than what people think about it. 

Is prostitution a concept which you have always been accepting of?
Hailey: Not entirely. I thought about it for a long time before I did it. I had a friend who did it before I did it, and I did worry about her.

When your friend did it, what were your concerns for her?
Hailey: That she would be around a lot of drug use, and I knew that she had problems with that in the past... [that] she would meet people that would treat her badly or pass their personal issues on to her. 

Then what motivated you to become a sex worker?
Hailey: I've always been comfortable with expressing my sexuality and never felt like I was doing anything wrong when I was being promiscuous. At the time when I decided to do it, I was having financial issues that I could sort out.
Did you feel it was your only option?
Hailey: Not at all, but I did think it would be the quickest and easiest way to do that. 

Do you see any difference between what you do and what sex workers who roam the streets do?
Hailey: I don't think of them as any different but I do recognize that there are greater risks for them. I have a strong belief that in any job you do you are vulnerable to some kind of risk, whether it be physical (violence, injury) or mental (bullying, black mail). And this belief runs parallel to my belief in having unions and laws surrounding all workplaces.

Do you believe street prostitution should be legalised?
Hailey: I don't think it should be legalized purely and simply because of the dangers [but] I don't believe that the women choosing to work on the streets should be criminalized or punished by law. 

Although you work in a brothel, the safer alternative to street prostitution, I imagine that the first job would still have been a daunting moment. How did you feel during your first shift? 
Hailey: I felt like I was an observer. I sat there looking at everyone, and it was fascinating meeting the other girls and seeing what it really I was. I wasn't really scared and nervous or anything, it was just really interesting.
What are the other girls like? Is there camaraderie between you and the others?
Hailey: Not for me personally. But in general the girls I've met have been smart, educated women and I haven't come across any with full on drug problems. Most just seem to have had similar financial problems to me. Most of them are very secretive about it in their outside lives. Many even have partners who don't know about it and I (laughs) cannot imagine that. 

Talk me through the process. What happens between when a guy arrives at a brothel and when he is having sex? 
Hailey: A guy walks in, sits in an intro room, gets to meet all the girls (after all the girls have screened him through a one-sided window to make sure he's not someone you know or someone you wouldn't have with because of weight, race, or anything), they introduce themselves, then the receptionist asks him if he'd like to stay with any of the ladies that he's met. He makes his choice, then they go into a private room, and that is it. 

Have you ever turned down a client who was too physically undesirable, and could you if you wanted to? Or is this against the spirit of the profession? 
Hailey: No, girls reject people all the time. I would say it was actually against the spirit of the profession to NOT turn people down. You have to have your limitations, otherwise you are working in desperation. I have turned down people on numerous occasions - more for their attitude or state of consciousness than the way they look.

What attitude makes you turn a client down?
Hailey: If they are really creepy or touch me in the intro room – try to put their hand on my leg or are really really drunk.

So more or less objectifying you? Doesn't the nature of prostitution make you an object to be leered upon?
I'm not going to lie and say that the sex industry is perfect and doesn't involve objectification of people, but a common misconception is that that's all it involves. I don't view sex work as selling your body, I see it as an exchange of a service like many other industries. And for most clients, objectification is not the goal.

Are you ever under the influence of drugs or alcohol while you're at work, and is this allowed?
Hailey: It's not allowed and I never have been. Actually once, we all went in this big hooker bus to a penthouse hotel and had Don Perrigion.

Who hired the bus of prostitutes?
Hailey: Some Arabic prince or something, I don't know really. 

What procedure does the brothel have to minimise the risk of sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy and health concerns?
Hailey: Every single month you have to get an STI check, and every three months you get a full blood check. They provide condoms, lubricant. And there is a law that you must use contraception while giving or receiving oral sex, and signs on the door which remind people of this law, just in case the guy thinks that that is not an issue, because a lot of people arent aware you can STIs this way.

Does the condom on oral sex rule make some guys angry?
Hailey: I wouldn't say angry, but some guys keep asking for unprotected oral.

What would you do then if a guy became aggressive? Is there a camera or people watching to make sure you're safe?
Hailey: [There aren't cameras] in the rooms, but there are across the rest of the facility. There is a security button. 

Society disapproves of sex work, yet it is the oldest profession there is. Do you think the stigma about prostitution is because you are selling your body, or more to do with the virtuosity ascribed to women?
Hailey: I think it's more to do with the virtuosity, it's not the way a woman is supposed to behave – a woman's sexuality is not talked about, even today. When girls act promiscuously in every day life it's not approved of. Society's attitude towards sex work is directly related to society's attitude towards women's bodies and [female] sexuality. The media constantly sexualises women but simultaneously portrays the sexually liberated women as less intelligent and worthwhile. At the same time the non-sexualised woman is often portrayed as submissive. Both of these portrayals of women have something to do with a possessive attitude held over women that we should not be able to make such decisions about what we do with our bodies. And sex work goes against all of this. 

Does part of you feel that by being a prostitute, you are in a way protesting to what a woman is supposed to be? 
Hailey: It's funny that you ask that because of what I just described. I guess there is a part of me that loves fighting against an attitude that I hate.

Assuming that you have told some of your friends, how have they responded and what has been the issue that they have had the most trouble with? 
Hailey: Mainly the response has been good, there has of course been a few concerned friends. Similar to the concerns that I experienced for my friend who did. That I would regret it mainly, and I had a friend who thought I might get really into drugs. 

Does any potential disapproval over what you do make you angry? 
Hailey: If someone really disapproved it wouldn't make me angry, because I've been in the same position so I understand because it's just so unfamiliar. 

Do you still desire sex outside of work? 
Hailey: Yeah, of course, no difference at all. And I've learnt a lot about what I like to do in sex. 

Do you think the ability to separate sex professionally and personally is something that anyone can learn to do, or it's something that you just have? 
Hailey: I think it's something that you have , I don't think paid sex is something that would be okay for most people. And I think you know within yourself whether you have it or not. 

What do you think it is about your personality that makes you okay with having sex with men you aren't attracted to? 
Hailey: Definitely only something that you have. I would never think that someone should "try" and do something that could take a toll on your life in many ways if it wasn't properly thought out. I think that's why when men and women are forced into the job by a habit or a lifestyle they have to support and don't "have it" it could have a negative effect on them emotionally. This could be another reason for the stigma. 

When you are with a guy now, is it something you tell them or feel like they deserve to know? 
Hailey: It's not something I would tell him [straight away]. If something got serious, I would definitely tell a guy. I couldn't have both going on at the same time. 

I imagine the money you rake in would make it hard to stop. How long have you been doing sex work for? And how long do you envisage yourself doing it for? 
Hailey: I have been doing it for five months. I couldn't honestly say, but I wouldn't want to do it for more than another year. It depends how I feel about it in that period of time. 

Do you have any regrets? 
Hailey: Nup. I don't think there's much point regretting things. I don't think I'll have regrets in the future anyway, that was something I had to think a lot about when I did it. I'm a bit of an eternal optimist so it's hard to regret things.

And finally, what is the strangest request you've had on the job? 
Hailey: To pretend that I was going to a job interview, and doing sexual favors for the job which I don't actually think is strange, but I don't think I've been asked anything that is actually that strange. 

So you're just waiting for an interesting one, right?
Hailey: Yep (laughs). It's always fun debriefing with the girls in the break room afterwards. This one girl said the guy's fantasy was that they were on a train and he was secret touching her, she had to holding on to something and be moving around a bit from the motion.